NASA and SpaceX said on Friday that despite the popularity of COVID-19, they are still advancing their first plan to launch astronauts into space from American soil ten years later this month.
Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are veterans of the Shuttle Shutdown program that closed in 2011 and will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 27 Lift off.
NASA Administrator Jim Bradenstein told reporters that after the famous Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, the SpaceX crew Dragon capsule will be the fifth category of spaceflight that the United States brings humans into space. Device.
“If you look globally, this will be the ninth time in history when we put humans on a brand new spacecraft,” said Bridenstine.
“We re going to do it here in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. I m going to tell you this is a high priority mission for the United States of America,” he added.
But, he said, NASA was asking that people avoid traveling to the space center to witness the spectacle.
“That makes me sad to even say it — boy, I wish we could make this into something really spectacular,” he said.
Behnken and Hurley, who have been training for the “Demo-2” mission for years, will dock with the International Space Station (ISS) and then remain there for between one to four months, depending on when the next mission takes place, said NASA s Steve Stich.
Crew Dragon can stay on the track for about four months (119 days).
This task is an important milestone for SpaceX. SpaceX was founded by billionaire Elon Musk, who is also the head and founder of Tesla.
His company was founded in 2002 and has now surpassed the aviation giant Boeing, which failed to complete the demonstration mission of the Starliner spacecraft last year, so it must be restarted.
SpaceX has received billions of dollars in funding from NASA since the late 2000s and has been supplying cargo to ISS since 2012. It has become a leader in the private space industry due to its reusable rocket Falcon 9.
“I ll feel a little relief when they re in orbit, I ll feel more relief when they get to the station and then obviously, I will start sleeping again when they re back safely on the planet Earth,” Gwynne Shotwell, the company s chief operating officer said.
The pandemic has, naturally, impacted the program, but Shotwell said that all precautions were being taken to protect the astronauts.
“We are ensuring that only essential personnel are near them. They re wearing masks and gloves. We re cleaning the training facility twice daily.
“I think we re really doing a great job to ensure that we are not impacting the safety or the health of the astronauts lives.”
Takeoff is scheduled for 4:42pm on May 27 (2042 GMT), with space station docking scheduled about 19 hours later, on May 28.